On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – MONDAY AUGUST 5, 1918
The weather today will be hot and muggy with the probability of some light rain this evening. Today’s high will be 92° and the low tonight 71°.
The first vessel launched at Hog Island slipped down the ways at 12:36 o’clock this afternoon. The ship is the S.S. Quistconck and she was christened by the wife of the President of the United States, Mrs. Edith Wilson. It was a spectacular day at Hog Island. Despite the oppressive heat a crowd of over 30,000 stood on the docks watching the launch. And in the water an untold number of tugboats, steamboats and barges gaily decorated with American flags and filled with sightseers were also on hand. In the sky seaplanes from the Navy Yard at League Island flew by saluting the launch.
With the President standing at her side Mrs. Wilson exclaimed “I Christen thee Quistconck” and smashed a wicker-covered bottle of champagne across the bow of the ship and then watched the 390 foot, 7500 ton steel cargo carrier slip into the waters of the Delaware River. The President applauded heartily beside her. Mrs. Wilson was given the honor of selecting the names for all ships launched at Hog Island. She has chosen to use only American Indian names for each vessel. Perhaps Mrs. Wilson chose Indian names because of her own decent from the Indian Princess Pocahontas. Quistconck is what the Indians called Hog Island and means “place for hogs”.
As the President and Mrs. Wilson began to leave the platform the crowd surged forward to offer their greetings. Secret Service agents and Hog Island security held them back as best they could. At one point a man called out “Hello Mr. Wilson”. The President searched the crowd and when he saw the man he responded “Hello George”. The man was George Henderson, a banker of this city, who had gone to college with the President at Princeton. The President and Mrs. Wilson then returned to the station where a special train returned them to Washington D.C. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The S.S. Quistconck served in both World Wars and in peace time as a cargo ship until she was scrapped in 1953.]
A British Hospital Ship was torpedoed and sunk as it was returning to England from France Sunday evening killing 150 wounded men on board. About 100 others from the ship have been rescued and returned to England. On the western front, American forces have taken the town of Fismes in what is described as the most violent and bloody battle fought in the war. The fighting was street to street and at times hand to hand. When ammunition ran out Americans bayoneted and clubbed the enemy. The Prussian Guard held the town and neither asked nor gave any quarter. They fought to the death manning their positions. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Not yet known to the people at home, it was Pennsylvania’s 28th Infantry Division which defeated the Germans in this vicious battle.]
Today’s casualty list from General Pershing’s Headquarters contains 417 names. This is the largest list issued since America entered the war. Unfortunately the list contains the names of many Pennsylvania men due to the fact that our boys are now in the thick of the battle. Sadly the list contains the names of 15 of Philadelphia’s sons who have given their lives in the fight for freedom. Those killed in action are: Captain Howard C. McCall of 42nd & Walnut Street; Sergeant Harry Ireland, 108 North Woodstock Street; Corporal Ralph Goodrich, 301 South 40th Street; Corporal Anthony Stafankch, 2802 Gray’s Ferry Road; Mechanic Leroy Jury, Green’s Hotel 8th & Chestnut Streets; Private Gillett T. Albert, Douglass Street & Delaware Avenue; Private Thomas E. Diamond, 511 East Allegheny Avenue; Private Gildon Elvin Springer of Overbrook; Bugler Edward H. Ulearey, 944 South Mole Street; Private Victor A. Cozzie, 1258 Pierce Street; Private Michael J. Ferry, 3106 North 16th Street; Private Vernon Bouvier Heckroth, 3525 North 13th Street and Private James Mulch, 623 South Hancock Street. Private C. DePietro, 2112 Dickinson Street died from accident.
Those listed as severely wounded are: Sergeant Ulysses G. White, 1503 North 19th Street; Corporal Harold F. Jones, 7036 Paschall Avenue; Corporal Thomas Richmond, 2308 Gerritt Street; Private Raymond Upton, 3229 North Carlisle Street; Private W.M. Stopfer, 1529 Green Street and Mechanic J. J. Lynskey, 4235 North Fairhill Street.
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